Volume 22 No. 5 September/October, 1997

AAPM President's Column

Responsibilities of Sponsorship:

by Stephen R. Thomas
Cincinnati, Ohio

The AAPM Board of Directors in Milwaukee reaffirmed the long standing position of the AAPM as a sponsor of the American Board of Radiology (ABR). Further, the resolution as passed emphasized the fact that the AAPM does not sponsor any other competing board for certification of medical physicists. As a sponsor, the AAPM endorses and promotes the ABR certification examination for those eligible. The Ad Hoc Committee (AHC) on Medical Physics Certification Boards constituted by Past President Bhudatt Paliwal is to be commended for the effort made to unify the board certification process within the structure of the ABR as mandated by the original AAPM Board of Directors resolutions (July 1996). All parties recognized the desirability of establishing a single board certification process for medical physics. Unfortunately, agreement between the Boards with regard to the AHC recommendations was not established. In order that the AAPM membership might be fully and directly informed as to the activity and product outcome of the AHC's deliberations, a web site was established on the AAPM Home Page (http://www.aapm.org) where the AHC report and associated documents in response were posted for review. I urge those members who have not already done so to visit this site.

As described by the ABR Physics Trustees, Ed Chaney, Bill Hendee and Guy Simmons in their article on page 16, the ABR in cooperation with the AAPM is moving forward with a comprehensive restructuring of the ABR physics examination. At the invitation of the ABR, I have appointed three AAPM members to the ABR restructuring committee - Charlie Coffey, Peter Biggs and Don Frey. We look forward to completion of the Committee's objectives to further enhance the current high quality of the ABR board certification process for medical physics.

The responsibilities of sponsorship must now be clearly defined for understanding and acceptance by the AAPM as an organization. It is the policy of the ABR Board of Directors that their sponsors do not sponsor any competing boards nor provide support for those boards. Personally, I believe that this is a reasonable requirement to be expected of a sponsoring organization, however, it presents a number of gray areas for consideration. At issue is action on the part of the AAPM which would constitute service or support to outside organizations versus initiatives which would simply provide relevant information on professional matters to our membership.

Thus, it is important that various scenarios be addressed for the purpose of removing ambiguity and reaching consensus on the requirements of sponsorship. I have enlisted Chris Marshall and David Gooden to work with me on evaluating the implications of dedicated sponsorship. The objective is to establish basic policies/procedures, which enable a precise understanding of the broad scope of sponsorship. Our recommendations will be presented to the AAPM Board of Directors at the RSNA for discussion and resolve.

Mission Defined

The Ad Hoc Committee on the AAPM Mission Statement completed its task and submitted its final report for Board consideration at the Milwaukee meeting. The Mission Statement was approved as written. Included as part of the report were "Proposed Objectives for Accomplishing the Mission" which constitute working/living guidelines for achieving the Mission. The Mission Statement itself is intended to be long term requiring infrequent revision, while the Objectives are considered fluid and open to more frequent evaluation/modification. I congratulate the AHC members for their excellence in fulfilling this assignment - Guy Simmons, Chair, Ken Kase, Ed Nickoloff, Russ Ritenour, Ken Vanek and Marilyn Wexler. The full text is reproduced in this Newsletter (see page 13). Thanks to the AHC's efforts and the Board of Directors concurrence, our profession now has a formal standard to emulate and a framework for enactment.

Clinical Medical Physics Residencies

One of the issues-of-impact (IOIs) for the AAPM includes medical physics manpower and training. With regard to the latter, clinical medical physics residencies represent a critical pathway for the training of qualified medical physics professionals which are expected to increase in importance in the future. The AAPM should be proactive in promoting the creation of medical physics clinical residencies to be accorded the same stature as physician residencies in terms of the level of career preparation provided. The rationale for establishing these residencies is manyfold but includes: (1) providing the appropriate training in the hospital and/or medical center setting to ensure more effective integration within the clinical arena; (2) providing specialized training within clinical focus areas which may not be accomplished within graduate educational programs in medical physics which are required to cover an even expanding spectrum of disciplines and technologies within the finite curriculum time frame; and, (3) providing specialized components of education which will ensure higher qualifications and capabilities for an individual practicing clinical medical physics. There are five medical physics residencies currently administered by the AAPM - four in radiation oncology (two each sponsored by ASTRO and Varian) and one in imaging (sponsored by the AAPM). Each 2-year residency award provides $30,000 per year for the candidate with $15,000 from the sponsor and a matching amount from the host institution. In the belief that clinical residencies in diagnostic medical physics should be funded to serve the training needs within diagnostic radiology as a complement to those which currently exist for radiation oncology, I made a presentation to the RSNA Board of Directors on behalf of the AAPM and subsequently submitted a proposal to the RSNA Research and Education Fund to sponsor two diagnostic residencies on a continuing basis to be administered through the AAPM. We appreciate the RSNA's willingness to consider this proposal and look forward optimistically to a positive response in this quest to enhance opportunities for quality post-graduate training in medical physics.